Well, we’ve just about cycled the length of Vietnam now. We’ve been in the country for three weeks and in that time we have cycled from Hanoi north to Halong Bay which is just South of the Chinese border. We then turned our bikes south and have cycled all the way down the coast and are just shy of Ho Chi Min City. We have four days left in the country before we cross into Cambodia. Assuming of course that we can get a visa in Ho Chi Min.
In that time I have witnessed the friendliness of the people and their willingness to please. In fact the only sour face in the country remains that of the customs officer in Hanoi when we arrived. For anyone reading this blog and thinking of cycling un- assisted through the country I can make the following suggestions;
Firstly bring a pair of ear plugs. If you insert these at the beginning of each days ride then the constant blasting of the bus and truck horns won’t disturb your mind wanderings so much while you’re on the bike. In addition to this you won’t feel obliged to answer every hello that is fired at you from the roadside homes and businesses. The first hundred or so of these each day are tolerable but after that I just simply can’t be bothered. After the hellos you often get “what your name”? I have on different occasions been Niel the Wheel, The Duke of Winsor, Humpty Dumpty, but my favourite is Rambo. Only because I have watched too many Rambo movies in the past.
“We’ve had our Vietnam” and now I’ve just about had mine.
Your earplugs will also come in handy if you lunch at any of the village cafes. Most have a loudspeaker set up somewhere and for no extra you can be entertained by Vietnamese pop or Karaoke broadcast at jet engine volumes.
Obviously don’t bring camping gear or a cooker as there are Hotels and Guest Houses everywhere. You may want to bring an electric jug though so you can boil some hot water for a coffee or tea. Otherwise you are off down to reception to try to explain that you want a thermos of hot water.
|Heading West along the South Coast of Vietnam.|
Bring a good knowledge of your bicycle or bring a bicycle from the 1960’s because that’s the model, either 26” or 27”, possible 28” that the bike mechanics are familiar with. Having said that, I am sure that they would love to expand their knowledge by practising on your bike. And I have no doubt that they would give it back to you with a smile complete with 27” wheel shoehorned in where your 700C wheel used to be.
We are here in the wet season and every day threatens rain. And we have had really heavy rain. Don’t bother bringing a rain coat. Adi and I have both a heavy coat and a light jacket. Neither are used. When the temperature rarely drops below 30C rain is a welcome relief. It saves you the bother of using roadside hoses to cool yourself down. Do however fit mudguards to your bike and if it won’t take them then get a real bike. The guards will stop you wearing all the crap and shit washing around on the roads. Bike chains hate this sort of weather so bring oil or buy it along the way. Any kind of oil will do. It doesn’t have to be $20 special blah , blah , blah. Twenty dollars will buy you a four star hotel room for the night or 20litres of oil if you want to carry it.
Finally I am really pleased that I decided not to bring my cycle helmet as I have bought two different ones here. Not only are they incredibly trendy when worn and make me irresistible to the girls, but one boosts ISO 9000 safety standards. I don’t know if my friend Rob ( our local Policeman ) is reading this but I have one for use on my Vespa when I get home and one that will make me look like Bradley Wiggins as I time trial the Mercian to work and back.
|Look like Bradley Wiggins in Your New Helmet.|
Still have to organise a place to work when I get back. But where-ever that may be I will look the part in my English time trial helmet made in Vietnam. And at $8 NZ a helmet I thought I might do what the NZ cycle importers do and bring in a few thousand and sell them for $45 NZ each. (That’s the trip paid for).
|Or for the Vespa.|
|Place Your Order Now. I Can Bring Back A Thousand Or So.|